Discussing The Various Beliefs of Seventh-Day Adventists

JeffLogan's picture

We have, in the past, involved ourselves many times in the discussion of Catholic doctrines. I thought it might be of interest to some here to open a discussion around the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

The Seventh-Day Adventist church does not have a typical creed but rather has chosen to call their doctrines "Fundamental Beliefs." The idea is that if we are to follow the Bible and the Bible only as our authority then we must not put down roots so deeply that we cannot change them should Christ chose to correct our understanding. This position gives us the latitude to come into line with scripture without the embarrassment that would normally arise had we taken a dogmatic approach. It allows us, as a people, to be ready to follow Christ onward and upward as we progress toward a fuller understanding of the plan of salvation as God strips away the error which has taken such a stronghold upon our minds.

But just as sure as I post these to the world-wide-web they become somewhat etched in stone. So I will offer this disclaimer, that these are the church's Fundamental Beliefs as of August 2011, and provide this statement from the official church website.

    Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church's understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word.

    --Captured from Adventist.org, August 2011.

To some minds the SDA church is not a true Christian church because it is said that their doctrines do not conform entirely to the established religious mindset prevalent today. And, there are indeed some beliefs which seem to be unique which we will address, if you like, and as time allows. But consider that the following churches also held as truth doctrines which were new in their day.

  1. The Lutherans taught Justification by Faith alone
  2. The Baptists taught baptism by full emersion and religious freedom
  3. John Calvin taught that salvation comes directly from God, not the church
  4. The Methodist taught discipline and accountability
  5. The Charismatics taught joyful worship--our dependence upon God's spirit
  6. and we mustn't forget...

  7. The Catholics for defending foundational truths against err and protecting the sanctity of life

...and on and on. Martin Luther brought out one prominent truth which had been hidden from view but he lacked understanding in other areas. So God sent John Calvin. Then John Wesley to balance out Martin Luther and John Calvin. But it was difficult for those earlier churches who laid down creeds to keep pace by embracing new theology so other denominations sprang up and moved the ball down the field a bit further, so to speak. So is it a strange thing for God to continue in this course as time moves on. But in order to validate that it is God's work moving us forward we must look to see if we embrace God's earlier revealed truth. Do we hold to Justification by Faith Alone? What about religious freedom and baptism by immersion? What about Jesus as a personal Savior? What about true sanctification? What about joyful worship and dependence upon God's spirit to fulfill His purposes in our lives? The battery of truths must accumulate and not fall away. We must not drop important truths as we progress else we must go back into the wilderness and retrieve them. So with that said, let's get started. Let's see if the Adventist church retains all of these truths and investigate any new truths they bring to the equation.

I thought I would start by stating some doctrines we do hold in common with the larger community of faith to establish that perhaps the SDA church is not a cult. Because they are deemed not to be controversial I will post several of them at a time. However, as we get to those which are more controversial I will slow down. But I post these in the event they too may be controversial by their wording or scriptural reference.

So if you're ready to begin, let's start!

(I would request that you wait until I open a particular topic before you post a related question. We'll see how that works. But if you raise a question please give me ample time to address it. I can not always participate every day. And, let's make this enjoyable and a learning experience. But please ask what is on your mind.)

Jeff Logan

ElderDad's picture

Re: Harsh


First, let me say that during the time I have participated in the CCEL forums, I have appreciated your search for the truth and knowledge of Scripture. I also respect your willingness to open up this particular forum discussion. Thank you for your honest effort to answer the numerous criticisms that have been perpetuated down through the years.

Now I will address the question of "any unconfessed sin . . . " In TGC, chapter on "The Investigative Judgment," the statement regarding believers is:

"Names are accepted, names rejected." When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God's remembrance." Then there are a few paragraphs that give the indication that all who have repented of sin and claimed the blood of Christ will be saved. I believe the SDA doctrine may now place more emphasis on this aspect, but whole discussion hinges on the Adventist acceptance of the Arminian problem of what to do with unconfessed sin. It might be unconfessed due to belligerence, or it might be unconfessed due to forgetfulness or just a lack of understanding that it was sin. Even back in the Mosaic law there was a distinction between known sin and unknown sin. Interestingly, in Deuteronomy, the atonement sacrifices were for unknown sin. However, the narrative returns to the problem of unconfessed sin. On pages 486 and 487 of the 1950 edition of TGC: "How solemn is the thought! Day after day, passing into eternity, bears its burden of records for the books of heaven. Words once spoken, deeds once done, can never be recalled. Angels have registered both the good and the evil. The mightiest conqueror upon the earth cannot call back the record of even a single day. Our acts, our words, even our secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Thought they may be forgotten by us, they will bear their testimony to justify or to condemn." There is more, but perhaps this will suffice to substantiate my paraphrase.

As to the "harsh," there is nothing inappropriately harsh in the punishment of unbelievers. They have rejected free salvation. Satan and his angels rebelled even more directly. They cannot complain about their destiny. However, if Ellen G. White is correct, it is possible that a believer who has trusted Jesus Christ and His crucifixion at Calvary for his/her salvation to have died with unconfessed sin and be condemned for that unconfessed sin. Yes, that is inappropriately harsh, but even more, it stands in opposition to the promise of salvation for accepting the death of Christ as a substitute for the death we deserve. By the way, if I correctly understand the resurrected body of Jesus Christ correctly, God the Son will go through eternity with nail scars in His hands and feet, and a sword wound in His side. That's harsh also, but it is God's choice.

While I recognize that numerous arguments have been made to deny the literal interpretation of the following, I must confess I am a literalist in my study of Scripture, as you are in most of your posts. Therefore I conclude this means what it says, "harsh" or otherwise. I will not argue with God's sense of justice for those who refuse His love.

Revelation 20:10-15 (ASV)
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire.
15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

As just another short note, notice the order of the opening of the books. EGW saw them ordered and effective in the reverse order of what John saw.

It is not "turning sinners out of heaven" that I see in the Investigative Judgment, but rather turning believers out of heaven for failing to mention every sin in confession. First, the person is checked to see if his/her name is in the book of life. If it is, then we go on to the next step to determine if ALL sins were confessed. If their name is not in the booked of life, they are condemned already (sounds a bit like John 3).

Dave S.
Senior Moderator, Volunteers for Proofreading
2 Tim. 3:16--All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.